GingerSass

adding ginger to your sass

GingerSass - adding ginger to your sass

I’m really bad at saying thank you.

For close to 2 months, I’ve been trying to find the words to say to thank the amazing individuals who sent books my way for my classroom and #Booksgiving.

I’ve literally been trying to write about my reaction to this year’s #Booksgiving for 3 weeks now. Every time I open my phone to upload the pictures I want to use, I come dangerously close to crying. 

Just know that I love each and every one of you who found me through The Bloggess, and I’ve spent a decent amount of time these past few weeks randomly getting teary eyed and showing my wife the HRC and Ms. Marvel and Amy Poehler and Issa Rae and dozens of other books you all have graciously donated to my classroom library.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

I still can’t think of anything that isn’t rambling to say thank you with.

I’m really bad at saying thank you.

So, instead, I’ll share some facts. (I promise they’re not alternative.)

  1. So many books were donated to my classroom this Booksgiving that I actually had to go out and buy another bookshelf for my classroom. (Thanks for the $17 hook up, Walmart.)I then had to put said bookshelf together, WHICH I’VE DONE BEFORE THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Unfortunately, I kind of struggled putting this bookshelf together. My students started calling me “Barbour the Builder” and singing “Can she fix it? No she can’t!” They said this with love, and, much to their surprise, after a week long struggle, I finally got the bookshelf together. Can she fix it? Yes she can!
  2. Two weeks ago, after finally putting together said bookshelf, I started organizing my library. The big shelf the school gave me is for a hodge podge of everything. The one little shelf is for poetry only. The Barbour the Builder Bookshelf is a little different. My students and I had a conversation that went a little bit like this over it:Me: “Okay, I just put star stickers on all my poetry books so put all the starred books in the poetry bookcase when you’re done. These other books were all donated through this thing called #Booksgiving. The new small bookshelf is going to be where they go, the “The World Sucks But You Don’t” bookshelf, or something like that, cuz that’s why I requested all these books for you.”Student: “Ms. B., you have dinosaur stickers, right?”Me: “Yea, why?”

    Student: “Put dinosaurs on those books. We’re tough, but unlike dinosaurs we’re never gonna be extinct.” 

    You bet I got a little teary eyed over that.

  3. I’ve been adamant this year that my students have 2 choices if they finish their work early. They can either write and submit a creative piece for the school literary journal I run, or they can read a book. This has led to students spending more time on their work, students actually engaging in creative writing, and, to my biggest surprise, students actually reading. (In my 4 years of teaching, it’s usually only been a few students that actually are reading.)I’ve also told each of my classes that I’m willing to play matchmaker and set them up on a blind date with a book if they tell me a little bit about what they’re looking for/ what their mood is.It’s been working out really well. I even set up a student in a long-term relationship with Ms. Marvel!

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you to all of you who donated and believe in the literacy of teenagers.

You’re the best.

PS A few people have reached out to me and asked if there’s any way they can donate to my Donor’s Choose project I mentioned in my comment on Jenny’s blog. I actually made a new project. Today is #BestSchoolDay, and any donations made today will be matched by Aspect Ventures. It’s a shot in the dark, but I’m trying to fund 4 ipads for my classroom so that my students can make visual and audio poetry for National Poetry Month. If you can’t donate today, but can in the next 7 days, please use the code “LIFTOFF,” as donations up to $50 will be matched using that.

So. If you’d like my students to make some pretty creative visual and audio poetry for you, please check out iPads for National Poetry Month 2017! Thank you!

Let Me Explain You, Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime is one of my first loves. We met in college, back when you used to get 6 months (practically the entire school year!) as a free trial. So, when they kept hyping up their 20th anniversary as being better than Black Friday I was pumped. The fact that #HappyPrimeDay fell on pay day didn’t hurt (or help) things either.

I was ready to buy a damn unicorn if I could. I expected Amazon to pull out all the stops.

I’ll spare you all the reasons they fell flat. Just know that Amazon Prime Day, as of 2:31pm EST has been a bigger disappointment than Black Friday for me.

Everything I could possibly never want has been on sale.

Then, I saw my dog’s favorite treats.

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I GOT WAIT LISTED. To add salt to the wounds, I kept getting removed from the wait list. Whatever. They’re dog treats.

Then I saw BACKSTREET BOYS AND N*SYNC FOR FREE.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 9.16.04 AMBig surprise, this didn’t work either.

So, I was disappointed, disgruntled, and wanting it my way. I was about to say bye, bye, bye when I got distracted on Facebook.

This led me to remembering that my former Professor, Annie, published her first book yesterday.

Annie was my professor for a summer course called “Writers as Teachers.” Her class helped me realize that I could be a blogger and I teacher, even if the two identities sometimes crossed paths. The summer I took her class was the summer I attended BlogHer for the first time. It was the summer before I started student teaching, and the summer I first found myself actually identifying not only as a teacher, but as a writer as well.

Annie’s class was pretty badass.

So, it seemed like a no-brainer. I looked for Annie’s book on Amazon.

cover courtesy of AnnieLiontas.com

cover courtesy of AnnieLiontas.com

Annie’s book was on Amazon… for almost half price.

So, Amazon Prime Day wasn’t a total bust. I even added one day shipping so I could read Annie’s book on the train to BlogHer15 on Friday afternoon.

Amazon Prime Day was disappointing. I’m looking forward to getting something out of it that isn’t.

 

Hello, 17 year old me.

I’ve been awfully reflective lately. Perhaps it’s because I’m turning 24 in a few days, but, whatever the case may be, I keep thinking back to an experience I had in the fall. A former professor of mine sent me a message on Facebook, and I ended up attending “A Letter to Your Younger Self” Writing Workshop at the Tyler Clementi Center. The premise of the workshop was based off of the book “The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves” , which James Lecesne, co-founder of the Trevor Project edited. We wrote letters to the past, reflecting on what lessons we would share with our younger selves.

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writing to 17 year old moi

I ended up reading my letter at a sculpture dedication to the Tyler Clementi center. It was really meaningful to be able to read a letter to myself, as I had just found a letter from my 18 year old self that was sent to me from a seminar I took my first semester of college. In an odd set of circumstances, I was able to answer my younger self.

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James Lecesne and I (photo courtesy of James Lecesne’s Facebook)

I also had the unexpected opportunity to speak with the family of Tyler Clementi, specifically his mother, Jane. She found me to talk to, and we had a really profound conversation about the coming out process for parents of lgbt children. The experience of speaking with Jane was so surreal, as I had actually avoided all news of her son during my undergraduate career. As a queer student leader on campus, following the death of her son, I came to resent the media the stalked and preyed on lgbt students on campus. Speaking with Jane– and receiving unexpected praise from her for being a queer writer and an educator– gave me unexpected closure to the tragedy that came to define by Rutgers career as “Before Tyler” and “After Tyler.” That afternoon truly changed my life.

As I currently look at the words I read a few months ago, I smile at the final words of advice I had for 17 year old me.

Be happy. Smile. Be you. Wear what you’re comfortable in. Read poetry– yes, poetry. Blast Melissa Etheridge if you want to. And, for the love of chocolate, wax your eyebrows and invest in a ceramic straightener. This will change your life.

The words of wisdom I had for 17 year old me are still applicable for the almost-24 year old me. For 24, I’m going to listen to these words of wisdom, smile, and be happy.